The First Lady of Fleet Street: The Life of Rachel Beer: Crusading Heiress and Newspaper Pioneer

Eilat Negev and Yehuda Koren. Bantam, $30 (368p) ISBN 978-0-553-80743-1
During a time when most women had little access to even reading newspapers, Beer was the first woman to edit two newspapers in Victorian England. From an early age, Rachel Sassoon resisted the conventions of her time, refusing “to settle for the sheltered but unchallenging existence of a society matron.” When she married the youngest newspaper owner in England, the immensely wealthy Fredrick Beer, the pair became one of Victorian England’s most influential families. Both the Sassoon and Beer families were like the Rothschilds, wealthy Jewish capitalists. Initially working as a contributor at her husband’s paper, The Observer, Beer quickly became assistant editor. The couple then purchased the Sunday Times, with the intention of installing Rachel as editor. Her first editorial appeared on September 30, 1894. Wishing “to move beyond the domestic sphere and influence [the] public agenda,” Beer wrote extensively about wasteful public spending, the working class’s battle for higher wages, women’s right to vote, foreign affairs, and politics, including the Dreyfus affair. At times, the cast of characters becomes unwieldy. Still, Negev and Koren (Lover of Unreason and In Our Hearts We Were Giants) have done a commendable job of retrieving Rachel Beer’s legacy of remarkable professional contributions and glittering social life. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 10/24/2011
Release date: 02/28/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 258 pages - 978-0-345-53238-1
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